Tucson High battles for an emotional win in the opener of the Chris Moon Memorial Classic

The Tucson High baseball team with the special painting honoring Chris Moon behind home plate at Cherry Field (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Baseball family Tucson High has mourned the loss of two of its own – Chris Moon and Troy Iturralde — and the Badgers celebrated their lives as part of the Chris Moon Memorial Classic at Cherry Field on Thursday.

Moon is a war hero who died fighting terrorism in Afghanistan in 2010. He was there despite having a scholarship to play baseball under coaches in Arizona Andy Lopez after a distinguished career at Tucson High as a pitcher who could pitch 90 miles per hour and cover the outfield as a midfielder.

Chris Moon statue at Cherry Field (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Iturralde, a junior at Tucson High, succumbed to testicular cancer in December after being diagnosed with it eight months earlier in the 2021 season.

“It means everything to me,” says coach Tucson High Mark Morris said of the annual Chris Moon Memorial Classic held at Cherry Field. “I watched Chris grow up with us at church. My mother and his mother are good friends. Our children went to the preschool that Marsha (Moon’s mother) ran.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking because I was coaching first base when I found out Chris had succumbed to his injuries. And this year I was speaking to the team when I found out that Troy had succumbed to cancer. So it’s like a little safe haven out here. I feel that they are with us. It’s a great way to honor our entire military, especially the guys who gave their lives.”

The head athletic coach at Tucson High Mike evil and his daughter melon stayed in Cherry Park until 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, finishing a painting in the grass behind the house plaque that reads “Legacies Alive” with a soldier and the words “Chris Moon Memorial.” (Photo by Tucson High)

The opening games of the classic were postponed on Wednesday due to bad weather.

Tucson played its first game of the season against Catalina Foothills on Thursday afternoon and the Badgers were 4-0 down before rallying to bottom of sixth with two outs for six runs for the 6-4 win.

Kito Castro The rally started with a colorful single and peaked Mario Bejarano followed by a home run over the midfield fence to cut the lead to 4-2.

Nick Arias and Ruben Villaescusa Galaz then went before Max Leywa hit a ground-rule double into midfield, which Arias scored to make it 4-3 for Catalina Foothills.

Benji Cazares A threesome followed, hitting the fence in left midfield, hitting Villaescusa-Galaz and Leyva to put Tucson 5-4 ahead.

The final run scored as Cazares came home Ayden Escarregas single in the field.

Gerraro Brito threw the last two innings for the win. He struck four and did not allow a walk.

Castro, Bejarano, Arias, Villaescusas-Galaz, Cazares and Escarrega are all seniors.

“It shows the resilience of these kids,” Morris said of the six-race rally for victory. “We made a few mistakes – there were seniors who made mistakes – but then they turned around and produced the runs to win the game.

“Baseball is about how you react to that failure. We taught them that. It’s huge. It’s a great catalyst, especially when starting the Chris Moon tournament. We never like to lose in these tournaments. We feel like we have a small advantage. It felt like he (Moon) was here and the seniors were performing.”

Tucson High celebrates its season-opening win (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Javier Morales, Publisher, Writer and Editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a past Arizona Press Club honoree. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among others. He is also the author of the book The Highest Form of Living, available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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